John Lemuel and Phoebe Aaron Lovejoy

J.L. Lovejoy was a pioneer that helped shape this country. He knew John B. Denton back in Arkansas, before they immigrated to Texas, and rode with Denton on the Tarrant Expedition in 1841 in which Denton was killed. In 1856, Lovejoy became the first merchant in the newly created County Seat of Denton. Below are links to two articles with histories of the Lovejoy Family which were provided by Lovejoy descendant, Frank Braswell.

John Lemuel and Phoebe Aaron Lovejoy

Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle - May 20, 1939
By Mrs. Homer D. Wade

"Born to no pride, inheriting no strife, Nor marrying discord in a noble wife Unlearned, he knew no school man's subtle art, No language, but the language of the heart, By nature honest, by experience wise O, grant me thus to live and thus to die."

On May 13, 1835, John Lemuel Lovejoy, his wife, Phoebe Aaron Lovejoy and their sons crossed Red River at Mill's Creek to cast their fortunes in Texas. Mr. Lovejoy was a native of Georgia of Scottish descent. His mother was the sister of General Smallwood of Revolutionary fame. Mrs. Lovejoy was a native of Mississippi. Her father was slain in the battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. Sturdy of body and courageous of heart were these people who came to live and take part in the affairs of the vast territory still under the heel of Mexican tyranny. The Lone Star had not yet risen to shed its rays of political and civil liberty over this vast and unsurpassed empire. Eleven months passed before General Sam Houston, with his band of citizen-soldiers, won the glorious battle of San Jacinto and released Texas from the tyranny of Mexican misrule. Peace and confidence came to abide in the hearts of old and new citizens.

In Collin County
John Lemuel Lovejoy established his home in Nacogdoches Land District, and lived for 10 years in that part, which is now Northeast Lamar County. He then moved to Grayson County, Wilson's Old Mill on Sister Grove, where he lived for nearly a year. In 1846 he opened a store at Old Buckner, the first county seat of Collin County; April 2, 1848, the first sale of town lots was made at the cross-roads where the new county seat was to be built. Lovejoy bought three lots and what became the court house square of McKinney, April 6, 1848, he
moved is log store house by wagon and rebuilt it on the northeast corner, now known as the Foote House Corner. He and his family became the first settlers of the town of McKinney and he was McKinney's first postmaster. He acquired many acres of black land, some of which is still owned by some of his descendants.

Moved to Denton County
Those were days of the open range and the pioneer had become agriculturally minded and wished to fence his acres. It will be remembered that barbed wire had not yet been invented, so rails had to be split and used for fencing. Lovejoy moved to Old Alton, Denton County, where timber was more available. He left three sons in McKinney. George W., who died in 1856, was the father of John L. Lovejoy III. John L. Lovejoy II was the second county clerk of Collin County and after 10 years took up practice of law, moving to Denton and later to Decatur where he died about 1905. James H. Lovejoy was the third sheriff of Collin County and Deputy U.S. Marshall under Ben McCullough. Later James H. Lovejoy served with distinction in the Confederate Army. William C. Lovejoy also fought for the confederacy and was severely wounded in battle from which wound he died in 1871.

In 1856, the county seat was moved from Old Alton to the new town of Denton and again Lovejoy Sr. moved his store and became the first merchant of Denton. He also owned a store at Weatherford, which place was then known as Lovejoy's Store. He was not only a merchant, but a preacher, a Texas ranger and farmer. He was participant in matters political affecting the Republic and newly made Lone Star state. He was an Indian fighter and was with Captain John B. Denton when he was slain by the Comanche Indians. He shirked no duty of a citizen in any sphere of activity-religion, politics, business or armed defense against any foe of this sparsely settled frontier country. By nature, religious, Lovejoy adopted the Methodist faith and expounded the gospel 50 years before officially ordained at the age of 73, by Rev. D. J. Martin, another Methodist preacher. Lovejoy assisted Rev. John W. McKinsey in establishing the first church bell ever sounded in Denton, bringing it overland from Houston. On the day of his death in 1885, that bell was heard for miles tolling the sad news from the belfry of the First Methodist Church in Denton. Rev. Lovejoy was elected chaplain of the House and Senate in 1873, when the famous 13th Legislature, known as the "liberators" freed Texas from carpet bag rule.

He made a good chaplain. He impressed all members with his sincere and heartfelt prayers. One short, but famous one-"God bless all humanity and if the members of this Legislature are human, bless them too." Because of his deep interest and understanding of Indian life and activities he was made commissioner of Indian affairs in Texas by Gov. Richard Coke. Many land grants are on record. One in possession of George Daugherty of Denton was issued for 455 varas square and signed by Anson Jones, president of the Texas Republic in 1845.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Lovejoy was a haven for widows and orphans before the day of state or federal aid. More than 30 orphans and widows, spent the last years of their lives in a home three miles west of Denton. The place was built by their son, William, in 1869. The native logs were hewn by hand and shingles too, were cut by hand and the chimney, built of native stone. Part of the house still stands, but the bride for whom it was built never had shelter there, for the builder died of his wounds in 1871 and lies buried in Old Dalton cemetery, where also were buried his father and mother, the grand old pioneers of North Texas.

Four Daughters
Besides the sons already mentioned, four daughter completed a family of eight children. Miss Lee Ann married Dave Stiff, McKinney, Miss Margaret married Dr. Tom Cash, Denton. Miss Nancy married C.C. Daugherty, Denton. Miss Martha married Joshua Burks, Denton. Many descendants of these families are scattered over Texas and Oklahoma. Mrs. Lovejoy passed to her reward in 1884 and a year later Rev. John L. Lovejoy followed.

Reunion Held
It has long been a desire of the Lovejoy descendants to establish a Lovejoy memorial Association to meet annually in Denton. Because of this desire a dozen or more trekked to Denton in May 7, took basket dinner, attended First Methodist Church, visited Memorial Park, the Old Alton Cemetery, the Lovejoy homestead and the site of C.C. Daugherty homestead, now incorporated in the campus of S.C.W. Among those were Mrs. May Hancock, daughter of Jas. H. Lovejoy and oldest survivor of Lovejoy family; her daughters, Misses Myrtle and Phoebe Hancock of Bonham; Mrs. Edna E. Nale and Mrs. Homer D. Wade, daughters of Martha Lovejoy and Joshua Burks; Mrs. Margaret Braswell, John Nale, Volney Jo Nale, Jr., Mary Margaret Braswell, Miss Mary Burks, daughter of John Burks of Oklahoma, all great grandchildren of Mr. an Mrs. John L. Lovejoy, Sr. Homer D. Wade of Dallas was also with the Dallas party. George Daugherty of Denton was host and piloted his relatives to places of interest. He is well versed in historic lore, having lived his entire life in Denton and been associated with many early pioneers. Inclement weather prevented many from attending this first reunion. It also forced the picnic lunch indoors at the home of Mrs. Volney Joe Nale, whose late husband was a great grandson of Rev. John Lemuel Lovejoy Sr. The first Sunday in May next year is set for the second reunion when a larger crowd is hoped for.